Those who struggle with breathing don’t need to hide alone at home anymore. Portable oxygen concentrators provide much needed fresh air to people who need them. They’re easy to use, and thanks to healthcare, they are surprisingly affordable! In some cases, medicare may take care of the cost! For others, financing is easy to find and readily available, meaning you don’t need to ever spend another day struggling to breathe!
People who need oxygen have traditionally been stuck in their homes or have limited mobility. Stationary oxygen concentrators are heavy items. They work well, but certainly weren’t transportable. Oxygen tanks provided some limited transportation if they were placed on wheels, but suffer from a host of other deficiencies. What makes a portable oxygen concentrator such a great option?
Answer: A portable oxygen concentrator perfectly blends oxygen therapy with convenience!
So why would a person need a portable oxygen concentrator? There’s a variety of different medical reasons that can cause the need. Acute conditions can require the short term use of oxygen concentrators. Oftentimes, the use of an oxygen concentrator for acute conditions is for diagnostic purposes. It can help determine just how big of an issue is going on. People with asthma may use an oxygen concentrator to get more oxygen into the bloodstream during or after an attack. People with pneumonia may undergo oxygen therapy.
The more serious reasons for an oxygen concentrator are chronic conditions. Many have heard of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The lung damage from this condition means that the body often doesn’t absorb enough oxygen and thus needs help. Cystic fibrosis is another condition which can cause damage to the lungs. Essentially, any condition which causes the body to struggle to absorb oxygen can make use of a portable oxygen concentrator.
Understanding the inner workings of an oxygen concentrator starts with a simple concept. It takes in air from around itself, it then alters the air, before finally delivering it to the person in need. The air needs to be compressed to keep a unit from overheating while it works. The next step is removing the nitrogen from the air. Air is mostly nitrogen, but that’s not useful to the lungs. Purified air can raise the oxygen levels from around 21% to levels as high as 95%. This means the lungs get more of what it needs! The air can be delivered in two different methods. Continuous flow just keeps the oxygen coming. It may wear out batteries a bit and is usually best at night. Pulse mode delivers air to match the pulse of breathing, so it releases as you inhale.
So what are the benefits of using a portable oxygen concentrator? First of all, they are light, which makes them “portable” of course. To increase the portability factor, battery packs can be exchanged in the device and recharged at any location with a simple outlet. There’s no need to return home to a stationary battery charger. The use of a battery means that you can just keep using one and that you don’t need to worry about running out of oxygen. It just makes it from the air around it! This is obviously better than an oxygen tank, which has a very finite amount of oxygen before it needs to be filled. Being able to move around town means there’s no need to lose your independence.
There’s many different brands which offer different portable oxygen concentrators. Some have better battery life. Others are lighter than expected. Some brands focus on the lightweight potential of the concentrator to make them very easy to carry. Some of the big names include Inogen (probably the biggest name on the market), Respironics and CAIRE. The following are some of the very best portable oxygen concentrators on the market today. They include:
- Inogen One G4 - This may arguably be the best all around portable oxygen concentrator on the market. It has a pulse mode of three different settings and weighs under three pounds! Battery life usually runs just over two and a half hours. However, double batteries can be used to extend that to around five hours. When it comes to cost, the G4 might be one of the best options out there. Inogen studies show that it may be possible to run an Inogen One G4 for less than $2 per day!
- AirSep Focus - When it comes to lightweight and portability, there’s nothing that beats this model. It’s less than 2 pounds and is roughly 5 inches by 6 inches. The battery is shorter and it lasts for 3 hours, but the minimal size means it’s easy to have more batteries with you. Despite the size, it’s still fairly quiet!
- Respironics SImplyGo - This model comes with multiple rechargeable batteries, so there’s no added cost for an extra battery. It’s a bit bigger and heavier than a couple of models on this list, as it’s a foot tall and a foot wide. However, this is still easily concealed in an over the shoulder case. It does offer continuous flow while on the go, which isn’t always available in the really small models.
- CAIRE Freestyle Comfort - This is a lightweight model designed to provide pulse-flow to people for a solid eight hours. It’s less than five pounds and runs rather quietly at only 43 decibels. Arguably the best feature is that the pulse mode adjusts automatically to each person’s respiration rate, so there’s no need to keep tinkering.
Getting a portable oxygen concentrator can restore a level of travel, independence and comfort to a lifestyle. Getting one can be an investment if you’re one of the few people who can’t get it covered by insurance or have it financed. Knowing as much as you can about portable oxygen concentrators only increases the chances of finding the right model to fit your needs perfectly. These resources can help educate you on the various aspects of portable oxygen concentrators.
- Oxygen Concentrator Store - This article focuses on the scientific and technical aspects of how a portable oxygen contractor actually works. Helpful images and explanations allow anyone to understand what’s going on within the machines.
- Inogen - One of the biggest names in portable oxygen concentrators also manages to educate. This article from their blog looks into the benefits of using a portable oxygen concentrator. While benefits are certainly intended for their own products, they apply to all portable oxygen concentrators!
- The Senior List - This article examines various retailers and producers of portable oxygen concentrators. They attempt to determine the best in several different categories including portability, ease of use and company customer service.